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Japan make semis as Spain survive late scare

TOKYO: Hosts Japan displayed nerves of steel as they edged out New Zealand 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the men’s football semi-finals, while Spain survived a scare in an extra-time win over Ivory Coast.

After a goalless 120 minutes at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, New Zealand full back Liberato Cacace’s penalty was saved by Kosei Tani and midfielder Clayton Lewis blasted his spot-kick over the bar.

Captain Maya Yoshida made it four out of four from the spot as Japan booked a place in the Olympic semi-finals for the first time since the London 2012 Games.

Japan are the only team to maintain a perfect record in the group stage and are now just one win away from securing a first medal in men’s football since claiming bronze at the 1968 Games.

They will next face Spain, who ended their 21-year wait to reach the final four with a 5-2 win over Ivory Coast.

Defending champions Brazil never hit top gear but did enough to beat Egypt 1-0, thanks to a first-half strike from youngster Matheus Cunha.

Brazil will next face the winners of the quarter-final between South Korea and Mexico. — Reuters

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